“Are you serious?”
Un Am’s face began to distort; Un Geom titled his head at the unexpected reaction.
“You didn’t know?”
“How could I have known?”
“…Huh. I thought that the sect leader brought that child in with some purpose. I guess he didn’t.”
“We can barely afford to make it through each day in our current situation. We can’t spare additional expenses trying to recruit hidden talents; he’s a tenacious child who sought us out himself.
“And he was taken in by the sect leader….”
Un Geom stopped.
This child was accepted by the sect leader, who said he wouldn’t take in any more disciples. So, he thought that there must have been some story behind it. But, the wind bringing change to Mount Hua wasn’t intentional?
It seemed that Un Am didn’t know anything more.
“Is there some secret that only the sect leader knows?”
“No. That kid really came here on his own.”
Un Am said.
‘The more I think about it, the more bizarre this is.’
A mysterious boy traveled alone from afar, claiming to want to be a disciple of Mount Hua, and within a day, he’d taken hold and was enacting some sort of plot.
‘Perhaps, I’m just overthinking.’
He wondered if this kid was a spy sent by another sect to hasten their ruination, but it felt unnecessary.
First, Mount Hua was already in a sorry state, on the verge of collapse. Second, even if such a plan existed, sending a child too young to develop the necessary skills wouldn’t make sense.
And if a child with such talent existed, the sect would do everything they could to nurture and guide them rather than sending them to rot away here.
“If that is the case, wouldn’t it be better to keep an eye on him?”
“Let’s leave him be.”
“You didn’t stop him because you believed he could meet your expectations. Right?”
Instead of answering, Un Geom lowered his head.
“I am well aware of your hard work. It’s only natural for you to lead the disciples, but even you can’t accomplish everything on your own.”
“No. Sahyung I just…”
Un Am laughed softly.
“It is difficult for everyone. I’m not sure what he’s thinking, but if you believe it will benefit Mount Hua, there’s no reason to stop him.”
Un Geom raised his head and looked at Un Am.
“I am not sure. That kid…”
“That child is now a disciple of Mount Hua”
Un Geom’s eyes lightly shook.
“At times, we may be biased toward a child who comes first. However, even if he came later, all children who come to Mount Hua must be cared for as our disciples. “
“… I was shortsighted.”
Un Geom bowed his head.
“Even if he crosses the line, it won’t be too late to stop it then.”
Un Geom stood up.
“I’ll take my leave.”
Un Am poured himself a cup of tea as Un Geom walked away.
‘What a strange boy.’
Indeed, an unusual child has arrived in the sect.
He’s a kid that didn’t bother trying to hide his presence despite bringing about a drastic change. Whether these changes would be a blessing or a curse was unknown.
Just one thing.
‘Change is necessary.’
What Mount Hua needed now was a new wind. Floating in the open sea without wind will leave you lost and starving. Even if the destination is unknown, you must set sail. Whether the final stop is paradise or a desolate island, it was better than dying, unmoving, in the open sea.
Un Am brought the teacup to his lips.
He hoped that Chung Myung could be the wind that moved Mount Hua
Of course, whether he can keep calm when the wind turns into a typhoon remains to be seen.
“I think I am going to die.”
“… I am already dead.”
A chorus of pained wails echoed from all around. Now, of course, those who were speaking on the verge of death were Mount Hua’s third-class disciples.
‘What fresh hell is this? A new type of torture?’
They knew it was an exercise to build muscle, but it’s not like Mount Hua neglected strength training. A solid body is the foundation of all martial arts, and even the Shaolin sect would have its own rigorous training regimen.
‘But this is unreasonable.’
Yoon Jong lowered his head and looked at the table.
Stir-fried vegetables were served as a side dish, but his hands were shaking so much that he couldn’t accurately put them in his mouth and spilled food all over the table.
“Ugh…I can’t even eat properly.”
“We have swordsmanship training in the afternoon. Will I be able to swing my sword with my hands shaking like this? If it was a real sword, wouldn’t it fly out of my hand and pierce someone’s ass? “
“…thankfully, I don’t think I have enough strength in my arms to swing with that much power.”
“Are you really thankful for that?”
Yoon Jong sighed.
‘Say it to his face. To his face.’
If they want to complain, shouldn’t they do it to his face? What good does it do to talk behind his back like this?
“There is nothing I can do.”
Groans emerged from the crowd. However, Yoon Jong just silently picked up the stir-fried vegetables.
What could be done about it now that Un Geom has taken the same side as Chung Myung?
“Sahyung! In such situations, it doesn’t matter if it’s Sahyung or not….”
“But shouldn’t Great Sahyung’s opinion hold some weight?”
Yoon Jong sighed and was about to speak when a sharp voice came.
“How pathetic, what a rotten conversation.”
The crowd of third-class disciples had their eyes drawn in unison to the one who spoke.
There was a moment of silence before Jo Gul, who was quietly eating in the corner, began to speak in a sharp tone.
“Do you think Great Sahyung is your errand boy? Chung Myung isn’t hiding from you, if you have something to say, you can go say it to his face yourself.”
“… No, we were….”
“If you can’t speak up in person, just be quiet and eat. If you don’t eat, you won’t be able to survive in the afternoon.”
No one could open their mouths to argue after hearing what Jo Gul had to say.
Yoon Jong’s eyes met with Jo Gul’s gaze.
‘He is acting strange.’
If this were the usual Jo Gul, he would be the loudest to complain about Chung Myung. After all, he was the strongest and most vocal among the third-class disciples.
It became difficult for others to open their mouths and disagree when even Jo Gul took Chung Myung’s side.
Jo Gul put down his chopsticks and approached Yoon Jong.
“Can I see you for a moment?”
Yoon Jong put down his chopsticks and stood up.
The remaining disciples tilted their heads as they watched them leave.
“Are we looking at something the wrong way?”
Yoon Jong spoke first once they arrived in a deserted area.
“You look pretty pissed off.”
Jo Gul lifted his hand and rubbed his face.
“Is that how I look?”
“Your face is quite easy to read.”
“That’s the first time I’ve heard that.”
Jo Gul laughed.
“Even after all that training, you can laugh like that?”
“What do you think of Mount Hua?”
Yoon Jong went silent at the question. It was a sensitive subject that needed careful consideration.
“It is a difficult question.”
“I was originally planning on going back to my hometown after this. But don’t you plan on staying here?”
Yoon Jong nodded quietly.
He had already decided to stay here. The other third-class disciples had yet to make their choice, but he would become an official disciple of Mount Hua and live or die with the sect.
“Do you believe that Mount Hua has any future left?”
“Mind your tongue, that isn’t something you can say so recklessly.”
“I couldn’t believe there was any hope left.”
It’s not something that should be said, yet Yoon Jong couldn’t condemn Jo Gul. He had often had similar thoughts in the past.
“Do you mean to say you’ve changed your mind?”
“… a little bit.”
“I was forced into this training, but it made me realize. I’d never done any training that pushed me to my absolute limits until recently.”
That is true.
Yoon Jong nodded his head without realizing it. He had never done this kind of training. He always thought he was trying his hardest but never pushed himself to the limit where his body trembled like now.
“But that guy didn’t seem tired at all, even though he did twice what we did.”
Twice what we did? Along with doing double the repetitions as everyone else, Chung Myung also used more dirt bags. The intensity was on a completely different level from the other kids. Yoon Jong had checked the weights himself and couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Chung Myung using a weight heavier than his own body.
He’s strong. He’s not just strong, but he’s younger than us as well. I don’t believe he was born powerful, so he must have grown this strong through his own efforts, right?
“Sahyung. I thought it would be impossible for me to become strong in Mount Hua. I thought I would stagnate at a mediocre level and leave; I never even thought of becoming a master known throughout the world.
“Listen to the end, Sahyung.”
Jo Gul gulped and continued.
“But, looking at him, I realized I was wrong. I mean, is there anyone our age who can even compare with him?”
I don’t think so.
There never will be.
Despite being the eldest, Yoon Jong wasn’t the best among third-class disciples, even still he was confident in his skills. He was sure that even if he had to face a disciple from one of the great sects, he would still be able to corner them.
But that monster flipped Yoon Jong upside down with one finger and knocked Jo Gul, who was stronger, into the ceiling.
How could another monster like him exist?
“It doesn’t matter which martial arts you learn; what’s important is how you learn. I thought it was just an empty phrase that sounded good on the ears. Seeing him, though, I realized they were honest words. Sahyung, I want to do my best.
“… I feel the same.”
Jo Gul nodded his head.
“So, Sahyung please. This may be an opportunity for our generation to experience a massive change. Even if he is a little sarcastic and arrogant, let’s follow him for now.”
Yoon Jong looked at Jo Gul.
Jo Gul had excellent skills; he had the ability to grasp the flow of things around him due to his experiences down in the world outside. If such a person became a merchant, he was bound to become successful. If such a person was speaking like this…
“Let’s do it.”
“You are right. As of right now, nothing matters. I am someone who decided to stay in Mount Hua till the end. I will do anything I can to help Mount Hua.”
At Yoon Jong’s words, Jo Gul nodded his head.
“It’s funny though, all of this is because of the youngest just who joined us yesterday.”
“He may be the youngest, but he’s far from normal.”
“hehe, that’s true.”
The two smiled lightly and turned around; their talk was done. No matter how child-like they were, they seemed wise.
“Can we really become strong?”
“One thing is certain.”
“If we can’t become strong, then we can always train harder.”
“… such comforting words.”
The two returned after this brief exchange, and until the very end, they were unaware that they were being watched.
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